TYPICAL TALLADEGA Late-Race Accident Delivers First DNF in 55 Races for Stewart Crapshoot. Wild card. Those are the words most often used to describe racing at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, and Sunday's AMP Energy 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup...
Late-Race Accident Delivers First DNF in 55 Races for Stewart
Crapshoot. Wild card. Those are the words most often used to describe racing at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, and Sunday's AMP Energy 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the vast, 2.66-mile oval proved those descriptions correct.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet Impala SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), was one of the many drivers whose shot at a good finish went up in a cloud of smoke when he was caught up in the first of two multi-car accidents.
The Big One was triggered on lap 184 when the freight train of cars running the outside line, parallel to a line of cars running along the track's bottom, hiccupped as it raced down Talladega's backstretch. Ryan Newman, Stewart's SHR teammate and race-long drafting partner, ran into the back of Stewart as Marcos Ambrose barreled into the back of Newman. The chain reaction crash sent Stewart's right-front into the wall, while Newman was sent on a much more harrowing plight.
Newman's No. 39 U.S. Army/Haas Automation Chevy shot left and into the path of Ambrose. That contact turned Newman backward, whereupon his car's aerodynamics became reversed. It lifted off the ground and somersaulted onto its roof -- first landing on the nose of Kevin Harvick's Chevrolet before hitting the pavement and skidding across the track and into the SAFER Barrier lining the outside retaining wall in turn three. It finally came to rest in the soggy infield grass a few yards off the track's apron after rolling once more.
Safety crews quickly arrived and worked to extricate Newman from the car. The process was tedious, but Newman was able to give updates to his crew via the team radio that he was okay. With his car finally righted and the roof cut off, Newman climbed from his battered machine and walked on his own to a waiting ambulance. Following a thorough evaluation in the infield care center, Newman was released.
"Just a byproduct of Talladega racing, unfortunately," said Newman, who endured a spectacular crash in his last visit to Talladega in April. "We got hit from behind and that turned me sideways. Then I got up in the air and just kept flipping and flopping. Unfortunately, the cage came down on top of my head and I couldn't get out. It was a boring race and it was a ridiculous race. I just got to thank ButlerBuilt (seats), Simpson Race Products and all the guys at the shop and Hendrick Chassis with what they do to make the cars safer."
"I'm just glad he's alright," Stewart said. "He'll be sore, for sure, but he's ok."
Both Stewart and Newman suffered DNFs (Did Not Finish). Their 35th- and 36th-place finishes, respectively, were their worst of the season. For Stewart, the result snapped a remarkable streak of 55 races without a DNF, which entering Talladega, was the series' longest. (David Reutimann, who has now gone 38 straight races without a DNF, is the new leader in this category.)
And with Newman and Stewart unable to complete the final eight laps of the 191-lap race, which was extended three laps beyond its originally scheduled distance due to a green-white-checkered finish, they also lost their standing as having completed the most laps of any other drivers this season, for coming into Talladega, both had completed all but 14 of the 9,388 laps available. (Currently, Juan Pablo Montoya has completed the most laps: 9,558 -- one lap more that Stewart and Newman, who are tied with each having completed 9,557 laps of the 9,579 laps available.)
In a case of the rich getting richer, championship point leader Jimmie Johnson finished the race in sixth while the majority of his championship pursuers crashed out. Johnson widened his lead to a seemingly insurmountable 184 points over second-place Mark Martin with only three races remaining. Each driver second through seventh in the point standings -- which included Stewart and Newman -- was caught up in one of the two big accidents and finished 19th or worse.
In other news, Jamie McMurray beat Kasey Kahne to win the AMP Energy 500. It was the third victory of his Sprint Cup career, but his first since winning at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in July 2007, a span of 86 races.
Finishing third was rookie Joey Logano, while Greg Biffle and Jeff Burton rounded out the top-five. Michael Waltrip finished seventh behind Johnson with Brad Keselowski, Elliott Sadler and Bobby Labonte comprising the remainder of the top-10.
There were six caution periods for 23 laps, with 13 drivers failing to finish the race.
Both SHR drivers are represented in this year's Chase for the Championship. Stewart dropped one spot to fifth in the standings and is now 279 points behind Chase leader Johnson. Newman fell one spot to eighth where he is 402 markers out of first.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Nov. 8 Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The race begins at 3:15 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by ABC beginning with its pre-race show at 2:30 p.m.